- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ms. Vicki,

My husband is in the Air Force and has orders to go to Alaska. Another permanent change of station (PCS) move would bankrupt our family — we are overmortgaged. I know we are not the only ones in this predicament, but we decided to buy a house when we moved here three years ago instead of rent.

I have never worked outside the home, so I don’t have an income to contribute. We can’t rent our home because no one will pay the amount of rent necessary to cover the mortgage. Moreover, we can’t afford for me and the children to stay here and let my husband move to Alaska without us.

I feel so helpless and trapped. Have you heard about any military programs or resources to help us? — Financial Difficulty

Dear Financial,

Visit your Airmen and Family Readiness Center. I’m quite knowledgeable about the services they provide, and I know if there are any resources out there to help you they would know about them. There are several offices in the D.C. area, including at Andrews Air Force Base, Bolling Air Force Base and the Pentagon.

I know this is a stressful time for you and your family, but I believe the readiness center would be the place to start. I hope everything works out in your favor. Keep in touch.

Hello Miss Vicki,

My question is about my 2-year-old son. He exhibits all the signs of autism, but the doctor who screened him for autism says is not autistic because he can make eye contact.

He is getting help through government services and the people who work with him seem to agree with the doctor that my son is just learning delayed. For some reason, though, he has all signs of autism, like hand twirling, jumping, only eating certain foods, not sleeping, not playing with toys properly, the list goes on. He also has out-of-this-world tantrums when you can’t console him, just pray that it will be over soon.

Have your readers had similar problems getting their children diagnosed? What do I do to get him diagnosed? Is it just military doctors who don’t want to take the time to listen and spend time with parents and children? — Concerned Mommy

Dear Concerned, I know this is a stressful time for you because you love your son very much and want the best for him. I agree that his symptoms have some autistic traits, but he could, in fact, be learning delayed. I think the doctor is trying to get more information and more history before making such a diagnosis. He is only 2 years old, and in my professional opinion, he is still quite young.

Please don’t take this as a sign that the doctor does not want to give him the proper care or keep him from getting the services he needs, OK? At this time I won’t give you other resource information on Web sites to visit because I think it may only add to your feelings that your son is being diagnosed improperly.

Right now, I think it’s very important that you build a network of support and take care of yourself. Make sure your son is in a good educational environment, one that understands children with special needs and one that will help him succeed educationally.

I applaud you for reaching out for help. I’m sure there are many readers who also may share their experience or in fact have some wisdom to share.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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